Dear Friends,

We are finally beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. For the last three months, and three columns, COVID-19 issues have dominated our conversations. As this is being written, however, the State of Florida has begun it’s re-open plan and we are seeing good signs that we will be fully back on track soon.

Three months ago, No one could have accurately predicted where we would be at today with this virus. Some said it would last three weeks and once warmer weather came, it would be gone. Others said it would be years before we could safely leave our homes as we wait for a vaccine. Neither has turned out to be true. Three months ago, predictions for Florida were dire. Hundreds of thousands of cases, tens of thousands of death, hospitals failing, this was what we were being told would happen in a best-case scenario. None of that looks to be true. Statewide, hospital capacity never went above fifty percent and thousands of ventilators remained unused.

Precautions, yes. Panic, no. This is has been my approach to this viral outbreak. This has been Governor DeSantis’s approach. I am very proud of the actions he took, with the little information that we had, that put Florida in a posture of being prepared for the worst. His phased re-opening plan is strong, fact and data based, and will help get us back on track quickly. It is my hope in the coming weeks that a “Phase 2” plan will include letting counties have some more decision making ability in assessing their specific situation and tailoring a plan that works quickly and safely. A plan for Hillsborough, Orange or Broward will simply not be the best plan for a county like Marion, Lake, or Sumter.

Finally, do not believe the rhetoric that we are hearing out of California, Michigan and New York that this the “new normal”. There is nothing normal about Americans admitting defeat and resigning ourselves to a posture of fear and deprivation. We will complete this comeback and our best days are ahead of us. The trees are made stronger by bending in the wind. We have learned a lot through this adversity and we will be stronger because of it. I am confident in the American entrepreneurial spirit that says no matter the obstacles, we can create something with value and something lasting for future generations.

Onward and Upward,

Senator Dennis Baxley

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